NANUET – Joy Dennis coordinates the Senior Citizens Service Committee at Redeeming Love Christian Center in Nanuet. As a retired nurse, she has first-hand experience with dementia’s devastating impact on patients, friends and loved ones alike.
“I’ve seen it. I remember when I was working, there was a dietician from our hospital, and she had dementia at a very early age — and it was mind-boggling. I have friends who are dealing with it. It’s not an easy thing,” she said, adding that her mother, while never officially diagnosed, may also have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“She was showing the symptoms. It’s a hard thing to watch knowing where they were before and seeing the changes in them,” Dennis said.
Dennis organized a recent safety fair at her church that included a presentation on Alzheimer’s disease by Alzheimer’s Association Community Engagement Manager Andres Standard. The presentation was part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Purple Sunday initiative, which seeks to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in the African-American and Hispanic communities through houses of worship. Research shows that African-Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as older Caucasians and Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely. Because lifestyle changes have been shown to reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, awareness-building efforts in these communities can have an important impact.
Dennis said attendees found the presentation worthwhile.
“People said they were glad to go. They said he was very good,” Dennis said, adding that she intends to invite Standard back on a Sunday after services later this year. She expects he will be even more well received the next time.
“They will be glad to have him back because they were pleased with what they got from the fair. I’m sure they’ll not only come themselves but will also tell others about it,” she said.
Those interested in getting their house of worship involved with the Purple Sunday program can visit the Purple Sunday website at alzhudsonvalley.org/purplesunday or call the Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley Chapter at 800-272-3900 for more information.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org/hudsonvalley or call 800-272-3900.